Monitoring Moonquakes

Buzz Aldrin aligns the solar-powered seismic instrument

Painting Completed 1984
24 x 36 inches, Acrylic on Masonite

Buzz Aldrin is giving the passive seismic experiment one last check. "Are the solar panels that furnish electrical power fully deployed? Have I aligned the experiment properly using the rods on the top of the seismometer housing?" The seismometer measures vibrations and tremors in the Moon. These motions can be the result of moonquakes deep within the Moon or by the impact of a meteorite hurtling in from deep space. This seismometer is so sensitive it can detect the impact of a meteorite the size of a garden pea impacting half a mile away on the Moon. Buzz must set it up perfectly because no one will be coming by for a long time to make a service call.

Buzz and Neil are almost finished with their historic walk on the Moon. They have deployed the TV camera so we can share this historic moment. Buzz has shown us how much fun it is to run and jump in the one-sixth gravity of the Moon. They have erected the American flag and talked with President Nixon. The scientists in mission control have turned on the seismic experiment and are elated to see that the first vibrations being measured are those being made by the footsteps of the Moonwalkers themselves. As I watched in mission control, all of it seemed a little like an animated TV special, slightly unreal. I knew Pete Conrad and I would be next. It was going to be great fun.

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